Speculation of a shareholder dispute at the British engineering outfit McLaren erupted last night as it emerged that the company has been unable to put forward a director to take up the offer of a seat on the board of Formula One.
McLaren is understood to be worth around £500m and its chief executive Ron Dennis has a 25 per cent stake in it, with 25 per cent in the hands of Saudi tycoon Mansour Ojjeh and 50 per cent owned by Bahrain's Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund.
"McLaren could have a director if they made their mind up," says F1's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone. "It was going to be one of the Bahrainis but they haven't got a director at the moment."
McLaren's F1 team is the second most successful in the sport but currently lies in sixth place. It has won 20 championships since its first race in 1966 and was offered the board seat to acknowledge its historic status. The offer was made in 2012 as part of F1's stalled plans to float on the Singapore stock exchange. Ferrari, Daimler and current F1 champions Red Bull Racing were also offered board seats and they all took them up.
A McLaren spokesman said: "It is a right available to us that for various reasons we have chosen not to take up thus far. However, we continue to review the option." The spokesman would not disclose the reason for the delay but it follows reports Mr Dennis was in talks with Chinese investors about a buyout to give him control of the company.